Sunday, October 30, 2005

Is God in Your Schedule?

One day during our Bible Study time, the kids & I were discussing Psalm 139:7-10.

“Where can I go from your spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.”

We discussed that it doesn’t matter where we are God is always there. One of my sons said, “Yeah, like He’s right here.”, as he patted the sofa seat beside him. Then he looked down and noticed that the sofa was covered with books, pencils and paper so he began moving it aside so that there would be room for God to sit. We all had a good laugh out of that, but I thought later, “Have I made room for Christ in my life, what needs to be moved over or out so that he can sit with me?” We get so busy with our little ones and the daily routines of life that we gradually squeeze God out. Before we know it there just isn’t time for a quiet time or prayer. The good news is God is everywhere we are. We can call on Him any time, any where. That is a great comfort to me to know that I can call on Him anytime of day and anywhere I am when I do find myself drowning in my day. But, I know that He is blessed when I go to Him first in my day. He wants to speak His blessings & wisdom to us before any attacks are thrown at us.
As you plan out the new school year, don’t forget to make room for God in you schedule & plans. Give yourself a specific God time in your day. Your family will love you for it! Your family will be blessed by it.

In addition to reading the Word I also enjoy these books during my God time;

My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers
More Hours in My Day, Emilie Barnes
Praying the Bible for Your Children, David & Heather Kopp
One Hundred and One Devotions for Homeschool Moms, Jackie Wellwood
Power of a Praying Parent
Power of a Praying Wife, Stormie Omartian

© Copyright, Dana Bailey, All Rights Reserved

Friday, October 28, 2005

Blessing Your Family

Have you ever woke up to start a new day, but you really weren’t ready to start it? Have you ever thought, “I don’t want to be Mom today.”? I can get so tired of the constant in my life. The constant laundry, constant dishes, constant dirty diapers, constant sticky floors and I could go on, but I think you understand. I can become so consumed with what needs to be done during the day that I miss out on the blessings that God has for me. That’s when I start crying and saying things like, “I don’t want to do this today! I’m tired of dirty kids and dirty floors and dirty diapers!” I can only remember one time when I passed by the laundry room & there wasn’t a pile of laundry waiting to be washed. It was our last walk through of our house before we moved in! I have been changing diapers since 1991…and potty training someone since 1994. And I am still changing diapers & potty training with no end in site yet.

There is good news. I don’t want to discourage or depress you. I want to encourage you that it does get better. During one of my pity parties one day the Lord showed up. I was talking to myself & he joined in on the conversation. “You are looking at the wrong picture.” He said. “Look over here.” And it was as if He took my face in His hands and turned my face to look at a different picture. It was beautiful. There were my children looking well behaved and clean. I was there too and I looked good (I must say). My husband is there playing with the kids & life looks good. “Wow! Where did you find them?” I asked. “They have always been there, but you choose to focus on that other picture.” The other picture was full of chaos. The kids are yelling the house is a mess; I am exhausted and where is my husband?

I miss out on the blessings that God has for me when I focus on the wrong picture. When I focus on how tired I am, how long it has been since I went to the bathroom alone or that my husband is late from work again; I am feeling burned out on life. God has given me 9 of the most wonderful kids ever. My husband is still crazy in love with me as I am with him. So why am I complaining? Because of my sin nature, it is easier to live in my weakness and cry than to live in my strengths and be blessed. My family is my gift from God. It is a gift I don’t deserve, but it is given to me by God because of his love for me & His amazing plan for my life & the life of my kids. There is another reason why I do this. The enemy loves it when I focus on myself rather than the Lord. Nothing pleases him more than for me to take my eyes off of the Lord. It is then that I become weak let my guard down & the next thing I know is I’m hosting another pity party.

O.k. so how do I stay focused on the right picture? His Word is the best way for me to stay focused. Psalms 16:8 says, “I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” God put our eyes in the front of our head. We sometimes wish we could see behind us but we can’t. It would definitely make my days easier. We can only see what is in front of us. You can’t focus on God if He is not in front of you leading the way. Meditating and reading his word on a regular basis will keep you strong and better able to recognize temptation and resist it. It is a temptation of the enemy for us to focus on ourselves rather than the Lord. In Stormie Omartians’ book, The Power of a Praying Wife she said this; “God wants us to get through temptation because He wants to bless us. But He needs to see if we can be trusted to choose His ways over our fleshly desires. He’ll always give us a way out if we want it badly enough to seek Him for it.” One of my ways to battle temptation is to keep scripture up in front of me all day. That way His Word is on my mind and on my wall!

Another way to remain focused or get focused is to stay in conversation with the Lord. As a mom of 9 I rarely get the amount of time in prayer that I really want. I have had to learn how to stay in an ongoing conversation with God all day. I am so thankful that we can come to Him anywhere and anytime. I have also learned that I can worship God in all that I do. That keeps my attitude right. If I’m worshipping God while I am mopping the floor then I am not complaining about having to mop the floor. Prayer can be worship for us. It can happen in the midst of chaos. I don’t know how it happens, but I have on occasion been able to zone out my kids & just be quiet & let the Lord bless my spirit while right in the middle of chaos. It is great!

When I am looking for the bad in my children I will find it every time. The funny thing is that when I am looking for the good I find that too. In spite of what we would like to believe at times God made our children excellent. They are made in His likeness just like we are. They are not perfect, they do smell at times. And they are great at breaking things, spilling things, throwing things and blowing up things. But my kids are also very good at hugging, kissing, helping, playing, praying and just being an out right hoot to be around. We have a lot of fun in our house. My kids have a great sense of humor and a lot of laughing goes on everyday. But often we are only paying attention to the things that bother us instead of trying to catch each other in a good deed. With that kind of mindset I am looking at the wrong picture and missing out on a lot of blessings. When I pray and ask God to help me see my children as excellent as he sees them, I love them even deeper and desire to have them around me.

It is so important to keep God first in your life as you are teaching and training your children. Only God knows what that final picture of their life will look like & we have to trust Him and look to Him for wisdom and guidance. Psalms 127:1 reminds us that; “Unless the Lord builds the house its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city the watchmen stand guard in vain.” I mess it up all the time & try to “build” my way or by myself. How great our God is to be there waiting for me to come back to Him seeking forgiveness. He will be there every time as long as we desire to be right with him. The Lord knows how hard our days can be as a mother. He understands our frustrations and exhaustion. Erma Bombeck once said that “Motherhood isn’t for sissy’s.”, and I believe it! We put up with a lot everyday. But God puts up with more so don’t be surprised if He crashes one of your pity parties like he did mine.

Keep your eyes focused on the right picture that God has set before you. Talk to him daily, listen to him daily and read His Word daily and then sit back & rest in knowing that your children are in His hands. You can make it, his Word says so. Psalms 18:30 says, “What a God! His road stretches straight and smooth. Every God-direction is road tested. Everyone who runs toward Him makes it!”(The Message) As a mom that is a very comforting thought to know that if I seek Him then I will make it. I will not only survive these days while my children are young but I will be blessed by them also.

© 2005 Copyright, Dana Bailey, All Rights Reserved

Raising Responsible Children in an Unresponsible World

© Copyright 2005, Dana Bailey All Rights Reserved

Do you think it is still possible to raise responsible children in today’s society? It may not be easy, but I do think it is possible. In fact, I think it is crucial to raise our children to become responsible adults who can function in today’s world. Unfortunately, we live in a modern society where cheating, lying and infidelity are accepted as a part of life. There is a great need for men and women of integrity today. As christian parents who home school their children, thus spending more time with them than parents who don’t home school, I believe we have the advantage. But it isn’t just an advantage we have. We also have been commanded as Christians to “make disciples”. Paul said to fathers concerning their children “to bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Family discipleship, according to scripture, is the parents responsibility, not to be handed off to someone else.

In Webster’s 1828 Dictionary the definition of responsible is “the state of being accountable or answerable”. In Robin Sampson’s book, What Your Child Needs to Know When, her definition is “Governed by reason; being under the influence of reason; thinking, speaking, or acting rationally or according to the dictates of reason.” So what does that mean in a nut shell? Basically, we teach our children to think before they act and then when they act it is in a way that honors and pleases God.

So why make this important? Romans 14:12 says “So then every one of us shall give an account of himself to God.” That includes us parents as well. It is really hard to teach my kids to be responsible when I’m not being responsible myself, whether it is with my time, speech, actions or responses to others. So, it begins with me, the parent and my actions will always speak much louder to my children than anything I ever say to them. They must know that I am responsible for my decisions & will be held accountable for them to God.

I also think it is important because as a family you work as a team, not a group of individuals. A sports team has a lot of individuals but unless they work together in a responsible manner they won’t be a very good team. You cannot do everything for everyone 100% of the time. As mothers we would like to think that we can. Delegation is important in the health of your family. Each person should be able and willing to do his share of the work for the benefit of the family. You are a team. Team members must play their position. You are counting on them to do their job. If one of my kids slacks up on one of their jobs it affects many others around them. This is where forming good strong habits become important to raising responsible children. Charlotte Mason said this:

"The mother who takes the pains to endow her children with good habits secures for herself smooth and easy days; while she who lets their habits take care of themselves has a weary life of endless friction with the children. The mother devotes herself to the formation of one habit at a time" and to watching" over those already formed." -Charlotte Mason, Vol. 1 page 136

Forming good strong habits is not easy & takes patience & time, but the blessings are long lasting. Like Charlotte Mason said we secure for ourselves smooth and easy days. We are still working on this in our house & will probably never fully arrive but my days are easier than they used to be. We established 3 areas of responsibilities in our house and then have worked slowly on each one.

The first area of responsibility is School. The children are responsible for their materials, book lessons and attitudes. If I give my older ones an assignment with a due date then it is their job to make sure it is ready on time. My kids each have a Rubbermaid tub in which to keep their school work in. If they lost their pencil or a workbook it is their responsibility to find it, not mine. This gets the burden off of me to try & keep up with their stuff. I don’t have time to do that anyway. Attitude is also a biggie. In our house their attitude speaks louder than their words & actions. If their attitude is wrong even though their school work is completed it doesn’t count for much. Philippians 2:5 says, "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus."

The next area of responsibility is Routine. Harry K. Wong says,
"The #1 problem in the classroom is not discipline. It is the lack of procedures and routines." The First Days of School.
It may seem that the children are not obeying, but in reality it may because we have not given them proper guidelines or procedures for accomplishing a certain task. When I established more routine in our day my kids knew what to expect & what was expected of them. Sarah knows that she is responsible for feeding the cats in the morning & getting the baby dressed. It should happen every morning. This is her routine. Daily routines are very important in teaching responsibility to our kids.

The last area of responsibility is chores. Do you have a chore chart? Do you use it? It is a lot like your Bible. It doesn’t do any good until you read it & live it. I’ve had a very organized system for chores for years now, but it was only until the last 2 years did I really get diligent about putting it into action. I love chores for 2 reasons. First, they teach great work ethic and second it is less work for me to do. Those who are helping to make the mess are also cleaning up the mess. A great rule of thumb is to not do anything that your kids are capable of doing themselves. You might want to read that aloud to your kids if you haven’t already. ( Everyone has a very important job in our family even if it is just scooping the cats’ litter boxes. We have learned to depend on each other in this way & if anyone goofs off and gets lazy the others really let them have it. We made Colossians 3:23-24 our family motto verse.
"And whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving." (NIV)( Emphasis mine)

If you are starting new habits of responsibility there are two “T’s” to remember. The first is Training your child in their new job. Make sure they know and understand what is expected of them. Spend 10 minutes a day actually doing the job with them so that they know exactly how you want it done. Don’t forget to give plenty of praise at their efforts and success. The second is Transferring the job to them once they know what is expected. Let them know that this is their responsibility now and you will not remind them of it. Be patient and full of grace and mercy during this process. Don’t set your expectations too high of frustration levels will be very high.

I have days when I think that some of my kids will never be responsible and then I catch them doing something really good. I think it even surprises them at times. Some of my children have seen the positive consequences that naturally come with being responsible. They enjoy the blessings that come to them. Being responsible seems to be contagious also. Younger siblings see the benefits and want the same. The positive habits they are forming are not only squeezing out the bad habits but their day is much more enjoyable. As a mom I often pray that my children will have the same desire as I do to bring honor and glory to God in all they do. I am blessed bountifully as my children grow and mature into responsible individuals. It is refreshing to my soul. Psalms 25:13 says, “Like the coolness of snow at harvest time is a trustworthy messenger to those who send him; he refreshes the spirit of his masters.”

Raising responsible children doesn’t happen quickly, it is a long season of giving life and love to your child while instilling in them the desire for godliness. Be patient and let God guide you on your journey. And don’t forget to praise him for the privilege of raising his children to become warriors for him. I am so excited for our future and the leaders that are rising out of the home schooling homes today. “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.” Prov. 31:25 (NIV) We are a blessed people!

Below are a few resources that you may find helpful.
How to Raise a Responsible Child by Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo
Peacemaking for Families by Ken Sande
The Young Peacemaker: Teaching kids to respond to conflict God’s Way by
Corlette Sande
Let Us Highly Resolve: Preparing Families for the 21st Century by David and Shirley Quine

Habit Revisited by Mary Woodis (based on the “Habit” writings of Charlotte Mason)
Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp
Romancing Your Child’s Heart by Monte Swan
Raising Kids Who Hunger For God by Phillips
For Instructions in Righteousness, Polished Cornerstones, and Plants Grown Up, by Doorposts
Doorposts very inexpensive posters: Stewardship Street, The Blessing Chart, If-Then Chart, The Brother Offended Checklist by the Forsters of Doorposts

© Copyright 2005, Dana Bailey, All Rights Reserved